The innovation engine for new materials

Melissa Moore


Lompoc High School

Grade Level: 

High School

Teaching Position: 

Marine Science


Quyen Nguyen




Tung Nguyen

Research Project Year: 


Research Project Title: 

Measuring Glucose Concentration Using Organic Electrochemical Transistors (OECTs)

Research Project Description: 

Organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs) are useful as biological sensors because they are made of biocompatible materials and require relatively low voltage to operate. A typical OECT consists of three electrodes (gate, source, drain), an organic semiconductor linking the source and the drain, and an electrolyte connecting the semiconductor and the gate. This summer, I demonstrated that an OECT device utilizing CPE-K, a conductive polymer synthesized by the Nguyen research group, can detect a change in glucose concentration in a physiologically buffered solution. To fabricate the OECT device, I first established a functionalizing procedure of the gate electrode with an enzyme. Glucose in the electrolyte of the OECT is oxidized by the enzyme, which begins a cascade of reactions that ultimately change the current measured through the conductive polymer, CPE-K. The detection of glucose is based on the correlation between glucose concentration and the read-out current. By successfully building a working proof-of-concept, my project demonstrates that CPE-K can potentially be useful in sensing the concentration of biological metabolites, such as glucose, in biological systems.

Curriculum Project Year: 


Curriculum Project Title: 

Soft Materials: Investigating Alginate Polymer Molecular-Level Structure in the Classroom

Curriculum Project Description: 

This 2-week lesson sequence on the molecular-level design of alginate-based soft materials is designed for high school Chemistry in the Earth System and Marine Science courses and integrates NGSS physical science and engineering standards. Alginate is a naturally-occurring polysaccharide found in multiple Central California kelp species. There are many applications for alginate polymers from bioplastics to food additives. In this molecular-level polymer investigation, students will observe the reactions of alginate with divalent metal ions and model the formation of cross-linked polymer chains of calcium alginate. Using previous knowledge of chemical systems and equilibrium, students will make predictions and design an investigation changing the concentrations of ions in the cross-linking solution to investigate the effects of these changes on polymer properties. Finally, students will evaluate the costs and benefits of utilizing kelp to manufacture bioplastics on a commercial scale.

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